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USF hires Illinois State coach to lead Bulls

USF AD Mark Harlan announced Illinois State coach Mark Kingston will be the new baseball coach for the Bulls on Wednesday. PHOTO PROVIDED BY ILLINOIS STATE ATHLETICS

Nearly two weeks after the Bulls finished their subpar season, USF Director of Athletics Mark Harlan named Mark Kingston as the new coach for the baseball team.

“There was a tremendous amount of interest in our baseball head coaching position from across the country, and Mark clearly rose to the top,” Harlan said in a press release. “He is one of the best young coaches in collegiate baseball today and has a tremendous background of competing and winning at the highest level.”

Under former coach Lelo Prado, the Bulls went 27-31 this season and have yet to qualify for regionals in the NCAA Tournament, but Kingston’s 18 years of coaching experience may change that. 

Kingston, a 1995 graduate of the University of North Carolina, has led nine teams to NCAA Tournament berths as an assistant and head coach. He’s been in four NCAA Super Regionals, two College World Series and has won a national championship.

For the past five years, Kingston was head coach at Illinois State, where he improved the program, finishing with a 173-102 record, and led the Redbirds to three Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship games and one conference tournament title. 

That conference tournament title was claimed his first year as the Redbirds’ head coach in 2010, when he finished the season 32-24, having the most wins for a first-year coach at ISU. In 2013, the Redbirds went 39-19, winning the most games in program history.

Prior to ISU, Kingston spent seven years at Tulane as a recruiting coordinator and an associate head coach, during which time he worked with seven players who became All-Americans. 

The Green Wave averaged nearly 42 wins each year with Kingston on staff and, in 2005, he helped the team go to the College World Series. 

Before working at Tulane, Kingston spent two years at Miami, where he helped the Hurricanes claim the 2001 College World Series title as the No. 1 overall seed.

Kingston also went to Omaha in 1989 when he was a freshman at the University of North Carolina. As a junior, he received the Trippe Bourne Most Dedicated Player award for his leadership before being named a team captain his senior season.

Kingston was drafted in 1992 by the Milwaukee Brewers and played professionally with Milwaukee and Chicago Cubs organizations for five years.